Jan. 2, 2012
It's been a great week! Elder Casey and I have been privileged to witness many miracles! I'm so grateful that as missionaries we have so many opportunities each day to witness these marvels!
I hope you all had a great New Year's Eve !! Happy New Year!!
I guess I'll start with the beginning of this week... Tuesday. Tuesday we visited Sato-San. An older man we found while housing on Saturday. We think he's actually being taught by a Jehovah's Witness group as well. We found him on Saturday (Christmas Eve) and talked to him a little about the Plan of Salvation. We gave him the Plan of Salvation pamphlet and asked if we could come by again. He said that we were welcome back and that he was free every day. So we stopped by on Tuesday... He said that he hadn't read the pamphlet and that he didn't really want to. It didn't seem like there was too much more we could do right then, but we asked him if we could just talk about the Plan of Salvation with him instead. He agreed, so we basically taught him the entire lesson there in his genkan (doorway.) We taught him our method of prayer and prayed with him. We hope that he felt something different and wants to learn more. We're planning to visit him again tonight (Monday.)
On Wednesday, we met a man (probably about 26 yrs. old) named Kudo-San, while streeting. At first he said that he wasn't religious and didn't have any interest and he was about to walk away as we continued to share our message. Something he felt or heard, seemingly in an instant, changed his mind and he said that he could meet with us again. We were able to set an appointment for this Wednesday. This was a miracle. It is such a blessing to be able to have, “in the very hour, that portion that shall be meted unto every man.” This work is great. Wednesday we also had eikaiwa. We didn't have too many students because it was Shogatsu (New Year's) which is really, really big here. We didn't have an advanced class, just the beginning and intermediate. Shogatsu is actually from about the 28th of December to the 3rd of January. A lot of the stores/shops close down and a lot of people go back to their hometowns. Normally this is a really slow week dendo (proselyting)-wise because of that.
On Thursday we went to my new favorite city in our area, at least so far. It's called Kaihin-Makuhari and is about a 30 min. bike ride from our apartment. About 10min. of the ride over is next to the beach and on clear days you can see the Tokyo skyline across the bay. The people there also seem a lot more friendly and warm versus the areas closer to our apartment. We started with a little streeting and then kubarikai'd (handed out English class flyers) outside one of the eki (train stations.) We were able to get over twice as many flyers out as usual in the same amount of time. Most of the kubari'ing we do is at the station close to our apartment. The Japanese people are super rushed and shy, especially here in Inage, so many of them aren't willing to put a hand out to take a flyer from us. They mostly all either just keep walking, bow a little and walk a little faster, walk around us, or put a "kekko" hand up and not look at us. Though every few people will take a flyer, and sometimes we're able to get a good conversation going with someone. Other than that, we didn't have too much other dendo time on Thursday because Thursdays are our designated weekly planning day. So we tried to find a few less-active members at home then headed back to the apartment for planning.
Friday was a pretty normal day of finding as well. In the evening, from about 5:30pm to 7:00pm, we started at the top floor of an apartment building (this one was 12 floors) and worked our way down, housing. We knocked/kekko boxed 92 doors and only actually met with two people face to face. And only long enough to introduce ourselves. But, discouragement is not an option! And we know that through diligence we will continue to see and be a part of miracles. We're super motivated and eager to work!!
Saturday (New Year's Eve) we had a district meeting in the morning and dendo'ed the rest of the day until about 7:00 pm. We met up with the Chiba Elders, our neighbor area (kind of like Pukalani and Makawao wards), and the Chiba/Inage Sisters, who are responsible for both areas. We were planning on going out to eat Okonomiyaki... but when we ended up getting there it was too late for Tabehodai. So we went to a place called Gusto's... American(-ish) food. American food, but made in Japan... Kind of like Japanese food that's made in America. We had a fun time.
This Sunday (yesterday,) the first of the year, we received a self-referral. His name is Sakanaka-San and he's 57 years old. Other than this one, my companion has only heard of two self-referrals the entire time he's been out (20 months.) He called the church in the morning and asked if he could attend. When we met him that day at church, he was already wearing a white shirt, tie, and suit. From our observations during sacrament meeting, he was like a sponge, soaking in as much as he could. We taught him about the gospel of Jesus Christ during the second hour, with Brother Kinoshita, a great member in our ward. We learned that he had met missionaries at a train station about 40 years ago when he was in high school, and that they were only able to talk briefly, but that he was introduced to the Word of Wisdom. He said that he has been trying to keep this commandment! He asked if hot cocoa was okay and we of course told him that that was fine. He was very relieved because he had felt bad as he had had some that morning! He also says that he has heard a little of baptism before. After our lesson, he stayed with us for Priesthood meeting. Following that meeting, he thanked and introduced himself to all those in the Elders Quorum. After our church meetings were over, many members asked Elder Casey and I who he was, and were shocked to find out that he was an investigator. They said that they thought he could have been a member of the Stake Presidency! It was amazing to see that excitement in our members. This is truly a miracle, a gift from God! In our work as missionaries, we are so privileged to be a part of things like this!
On a side note, just as we began our lesson with Sakanaka-San, we felt the earthquake, which you probably heard of by now. It was a 7.0 magnitude on the Izu Islands, about 395 kilometers off the coast of Honshu (the main island of Japan.) It was pretty strong here in Inage. We felt it begin really small and grow until the walls of the church were shaking pretty badly. It wasn't enough for things on wheels to roll around. But it could have been enough to make it hard for some people to stand or walk. Brother Kinoshita, our member joint, peeked out the door to make sure everyone was okay, and we continued with our lesson. Everyone was/is fine.
Also, our Sunday church time changed from 9:00 am to 1:00 pm, so now we're responsible for a Spanish Branch as well. They meet at 11:00 am and have about 15 active members. They combined with our normal Inage Ward at 1:00 pm this Sunday because it was the first of the year. So, maybe I'll learn a little Spanish as well! ...probably just a little though! :)
This upcoming week, there will be a lot of great things happening. There's a zone blitz planned for our area. It's planned that we'll have over 16 missionaries, along with a group of members, all dendo-ing in our area (Inage) at the same time. This will be amazing. I haven't been here very long, so I've never witnessed anything like this before, and I know that so many miracles will be brought forth! It's really exciting! I'm also excited to begin teaching a man named Mori Mamoru, who's been attending our English classes each week. He's attended sacrament meeting twice and really enjoys it. We have a lesson with him scheduled for this Wednesday before eikaiwa. We'll also be going to my first zone conference this Friday. It'll be in Matsudo with the Chiba (us), Matsudo, Saitama, and Kiryu zones.
A goal that Elder Casey and I have set is to visit the homes of every active member in our ward. There are 42 families/homes and we are excited to meet and share a brief spiritual message with each of them. We want them all to know that we love and care for them. We'll continue to work with less-active members in our ward as well... So far we've been able to bring one less-active member to church.
Well, the work here in Inage is going great, and this week has definitely been really great. I'll end with two great scriptures. The first is Mosiah 24:14... The other is one that one of the elders I live with, Elder Eguchi, shared last night at dinner with the Eto Family: 2 Nephi 22:2-3.
"14 And I will also ease the burdens which are put upon your shoulders,
that even you cannot feel them upon your backs, even while you are in
bondage; and this will I do that ye may stand as witnesses for me
hereafter, and that ye may know of a surety that I, the Lord God, do visit
my people in their afflictions."
2 Nephi 22:2-3
"2 Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and not be afraid; for the Lord
Jehovah is my strength and my song; he also has become my salvation.
3 Therefore, with joy shall ye (I) draw water out of the wells of salvation."
I love all of you!! I hope you're all doing great! Take care. :)
P.S. I got the package from the ward today. Be sure to thank everyone! I'm so grateful for such a supportive and loving ward. Be sure to always continue to love everyone and fellowship new members and investigators as much as possible! You are all so amazing. I love you!